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I see these sentences in the dictionary,how do I distinguish when I use "rather than"?

  1. Why didn't you ask for help,rather than trying to do it on your own?(v. ing)
  2. Rather than go straight on to university why not get some work experience first? (v. )
  3. Bryson decided to quit rather than accept the new rules (v.)
  • Sorry, but it is not clear what your question is. – user66974 Oct 22 '15 at 7:20
  • "Rather than going straight on to U" rather than "Rather than go straight on to U". – Blessed Geek Oct 22 '15 at 7:30
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    The meaning of "rather than" in all three examples you give is essentially "instead of." So if you understand the sense of "instead of," you can apply that sense to many instances of "rather than." – Sven Yargs Nov 9 '15 at 4:30
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It seems like you're asking where to use "rather than" in a sentence. I typically see "rather than" as a way of expressing that one option is chosen over another.

For example:
"Bryan decided to quit rather than follow the new rules."
Option 1: Bryan could quit.
Option 2: Bryan could follow the new rules.

So, a very simple way of looking at it is that "rather than" goes before the option that was NOT chosen.
1. Bryan decided to quit rather than follow the rules.
2. Rather than deciding to follow the new rules, Bryan decided to quit.

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  • So can we say "Bryan is more likely to quit."? – Martin Pfeffer Nov 9 '15 at 4:35
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    @MartinPfeffer That's something entirely different. "Rather than" in the examples above is talking about a decision that has already been made. In your sentence, the decision has not been made yet. But yes, your sentence grammatically correct. – JustBlossom Nov 9 '15 at 4:43
  • Hehe, yes that's true. :) I just summarized the "situation" before Bryan felt his decision. Thanks JustBlossom. – Martin Pfeffer Nov 9 '15 at 5:07
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    @MartinPfeffer Okay cool. :) Yeah...let's say Bryan has not made his decision yet, and two people are talking about what choice they think he is going to choose, one person may say, "Bryan is more likely to quit." – JustBlossom Nov 9 '15 at 5:10

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